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Author Topic: Went to the con  (Read 1918 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: March 11, 2002, 11:10:44 AM »

I attended Game Storm, a convention in Portland, Oregon, this weekend. It was better than most small conventions I've been to by far, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to any Oregonites on the Forge.

Games I ran

I ran one game of Donjon, which was a blast. I had six players, which was more than I've ever had before. (I also had quite a few on-lookers from time to time - people had read the description and wanted to see what it was about.)

I'd played with a few of these people earlier in the convention, so had a good idea of their game style - very traditional, and very GM-scripted, with little to no player authorial power. I was a bit worried at first. Although Donjon works fine when the players don't take an active stance in adventure creation, it's much, much more fun when they do. Luckily, the players proved my worries to be false - they immediately got it, and dug it.

There's plenty of accounts of Donjon on here so far, so I'll just hit quick points:

 - The rules can be explained in under 20 minutes. That was nice.
 - The characters were: a Witch-hunter, a Priest of Wotan, a Circus Performer, a Wu-Shu Monk, a Granite-Tooth Troll, and a Thief.
 - Some of the comments I got were glowing. My favorite was, strangely, "I love the fact that you can't argue about the rules." This comment was from a guy I played with earlier in a White Wolf game, and meant a lot to me, as that was an explicit design goal: the rule system is unified enough that there's no real room to argue.
 - Coolest one thing in the game: one player got it enough that when she rolled successes and got to narrate, she actually caused more trouble for herself. She was chasing a huge bird nest sliding down a hill, and leaped to stop it. She rolled one success, and her fact was "I land in the nest, and it speeds up." Rock.
 - Coolest scene. A few minutes later, the party was attacked by a giant bird. (It was the bird's nest they'd been looting.) As the bird flies about 20 feet over their heads, the "wu-shu monk" (same player as above) uses her Leap ability Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style to bounce from tree limb to tree limb and leap on the bird's back. At the same time, the "circus performer" used his magical-growing wooden pole, and pole vaulted into the air. He had the ability Use Feet as Hands, and grabbed onto the bird's legs with his own feet, did a sit-up, and blew flame out of his mouth (another ability of his, using oil), setting the bird aflame. D&D combat was never like this. :)

All in all, this was the highlight of the con for me. I didn't expect it to go nearly as well as it did.

Games I played

I played Munchkin, a card game that's always fun. Nothing really to see here, though.

The two role-playing games I played were the last two I expected to play. When I got there on Saturday morning, most of the games I was interested in (Little Fears) were filled up. I ended up playing Aberrant, the superhero game from White Wolf, and Adventure!, their pulp game. The two games were an amazing example of how different two games can be.

They were both run by the same GM, and with most of the same players. I, through a curious coincidence, played nearly the exact same character in both.

On the Aberrant game - I absolutely loved it. I played a small Chinese young woman, Sun Hi, who went by the name of "Boxer." She'd "erupted" (gained her superpowers) in a Chinese labor camp, where she killed the guards and escaped. She was super-strong, and had amazing levels of Super-Dexterity and Martial Arts, as well as an ability to make her punches lethal as guns. She was a rebel against authority, and was affilated with a group called "the Teragen," who believe that super-humans are a different species than humanity, and are in no way responsible to human thinking or authority.

The GM had made almost every character part of a different faction, which is unusual for Aberrant. It was quite fun, though - the scenario was basically "a bomb in a suitcase comes crashing through the ceiling, along with two superhumans fighting over it. One dies, the other one's unconcious, and all of you have a stake in who ends up with the bomb. Go!" Character alliances came and went, there were player vs. player chases and fights all over the island we were on, and it was a basically fun-for-all time the whole game.

I didn't expect the game to be so open, from my past experiences with WW games, so I asked the GM a few times, "Are you sure you want me to play this Nietzsche-minded, highly rebellious character like you wrote her?" He was fine with that, and once all the players knew the screwing of each other wasn't personal, the characters went at it. It wasn't all fighting - there were lots of tense character-dialogue scenes where we all stared at the briefcase, knowing that each of us had enough power to destroy each other.

Anyway, I liked it so much that I think I'm going to run the game sometime. The GM made this game rock by giving it to the players - which got all of us emotionally involved. (I just sold all my Aberrant stuff, too.)

Adventure! was completely different. Same GM, most of the same players, and I played a 60 year old blind Shao Lin monk with - yup, incredible Dexterity and Martial Arts. (He also had great powers of perception, though, even though he was blind.)

This adventure was very Call of Cthulhu-esque in set-up. We were all basically "investigators," and an opera diva had disappeared in London, and we wanted to find her.

(Before I go on - we were all quite tired by this time, which I'm certain detracted from the game. It was midnight.)

Anyway, the game was a "find this clue, then find this clue, then find this clue..." type of scenario. We got through it all in four hours, and then the ending had nothing to do with the opera singer, which seemed to be a let down for me.

I don't want to trash too heavily on this game (especially because I told the GM to check out the Forge), but it suffered from two basic problems, I thought:

 - I couldn't figure out why my character gave a damn. Someone disappearing is sad and all, but he was an old monk, and really wanted to fish, drink tea, or kick ass. He didn't know this lady from Eve.
 - For a pulp game, there was little ass-kicking going on. There was actually no ass-kicking the entire game. With a character that couldn't read, couldn't investigate, kept all Zen-master quiet most of the time, and wasn't interested in traipsing around England, I really craved some ass-kicking. This may just be my personal preference - for someone who enjoys narrativist games so much, I really dig the combat.
 
To summarize - I think this was a traditional WW game. It attempted to tell a story, but left it completely in the GM's hands, which tends to entertain the GM.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ferry Bazelmans
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2002, 12:22:27 AM »

Quote

 I couldn't figure out why my character gave a damn. Someone disappearing is sad and all, but he was an old monk, and really wanted to fish, drink tea, or kick ass. He didn't know this lady from Eve.


Basically, this is the GMs problem. He made you a character that had no interest in anything at all and didn't explain the basic rules of the game,
wihch is that you're supposed to be a larger-than-life hero who obviously cares when an opera-star disappears.

Failure to communicate this will result in players questioning why their character would even be in the city.

Adventure! imposes some strict genre conventions, the most important of which is the hero factor I just mentioned. Another of which is the black/white hero-villain relationship. Our hero is perhaps unwashed, but definitely wholesome and our villain is bad, disturbed and evil.

Now, if you play a game where these two elements are blurred you are no longer playing Adventure!; you're playing a pulp game using its rules.

Quote

For a pulp game, there was little ass-kicking going on. There was actually no ass-kicking the entire game.


Sounds like the GMs problem once again. Adventure! is made for pulp combat. It even has rules for extras (Feng Shui-like Mooks) and a large portion of its "knacks" concern the physical side of conflict.

Adventure! is a game that can be played in many different ways and with many different expectations. However, it does stop being Adventure! when certain key conventions are removed, such as the larger-than-life hero archetype. Or for that matter the "come and get it" attitude (by which I mean that the whole game is geared towards battling the evil minions of the likes of Dr. Zorbo and his deathballoons).

[edited to remove rather dumb statement that could come across as incredibly arrogant but is instead just dumb with a capital "P"]

Crayne
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quozl
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2002, 10:44:05 AM »

Hi, this is my first post on The Forge and Game Storm was my first con.  I had a blast and actually got to play Little Fears (Julie Hoverson did a great job as GM handling 9 players) and looked in on the Donjon game--very cool, I will definitely buy it when it is ready.  I also played in the Adventure! game (as a 7-foot tall strongwoman) and I agree with Clinton, the game was a little boring for us with fighter-type characters.  It was a shame since the GM seemed to have put a lot of work into the adventure.  

FYI, other games I played at the con were: Toon, Godlike (great premise and interesting rules but there sure seemed to be a lot of rules you had to remember), and Pandemonium (the game where you play tabloid reporters).  I also ran a game of Deadlands (with streamlined rules) and fun was had by all.

---Jon
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2002, 11:08:32 AM »

Jon,

Good to see you here. I was supposed to be in that Pandemonium game, but the five hours of Adventure! the night before wiped me out. How was that game? I was really interested in it (especially with Julie running it), and was wondering if it went well.

Clinton
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
quozl
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2002, 12:08:22 PM »

We were tired too so we pretty much just played for laughs.  It was a lot of fun for me since I got the brilliant idea of playing the man (native of Seattle) that created one of the most famously-bad rpg's of all time.  We went to a mall to investigate a mermaid sighting and ended up bashing some WOTC employee at the game shop there.

We didn't actually mess with the system per se so I don't know what it's like.  (Julie pretty much runs her games systemless which I like a lot.)

P.S.  I will not name names but it shouldn't be that hard to figure out who it was.  Synnibarr rules! :-)
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Bankuei
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2002, 02:13:44 PM »

Funny enough, I got my first taste of Synnibarr and met the man himself at a con a few years back...My ninja was killed by giant psychic rats...  Needless to say, the game spoke for itself :P

Chris
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